European importers are close to bringing cars built in China to Europe.
If Bijvelds successfully starts selling the Landwind this spring, it would be the first Chinese vehicle officially distributed in Europe.
“We have signed an exclusive contract for 27 EU countries,” Bijvelds says.
Bijvelds has no dealer network yet, but is negotiating with three large Dutch dealer groups.
Jiangling acknowledges the deal, but says it is not final.
“We haven’t signed any contract yet,” says Andy Chen, Jiangling manager of the American and European imports department. “When Bijvelds gives us the money for the cars, we will sign a one-year contract.”
Bijvelds says he already has a contract to take delivery of 200 Landwind SUVs by April.
The Landwind can’t meet Euro 3 emission standards, says Chen. But Bijvelds told Jiangling he will pay to have the engines modified. The Landwind is based on the Isuzu Frontera, using Mitsubishi gasoline and diesel engines.
Bijvelds plans to sell 1,000 Landwinds this year by undercutting prices of other SUVs.
The Landwind is made by Jiangling Landwind Motor, a subsidiary of Jiangling Motors Group in Nanchang. The group is also a partner in JMC, a light commercial vehicle venture 30 percent owned by Ford Motor Co.
Second Dutch group
Dutch dealer group Autobinck Holding says it is close to an import deal with either Chery or Geely, two domestic Chinese automakers. Both make inexpensive cars.
Autobinck has annual sales of E1 billion. It distributes Mazda and Hyundai in the Netherlands, and Mazda, Hyundai and Mitsubishi in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Chery is still deciding whether to appoint a single European distributor; national
distributors in individual European markets or form joint ventures, said Henny van Dijk, vice president of Autobinck. He said Chery is also negotiating with Spanish distributor Berger. Van Dijk now expects Chery to make a decision in June.
A Chery manager who asked not to be named confirmed that Autobinck is one of the European distributors with whom the company is talking.
Initially, Chery wanted a deal by April or May.
“But now I think we will postpone the plan,” says the manager. “We want to concentrate on entry into the US market. We want to wait until we have time to study Europe more, and chose the distributor that is the strongest.”
Chery has a North America distribution agreement with Malcolm Bricklin’s Visionary Vehicles. for five models in the US beginning in 2007.
Geely: no plans
A manager in Geely’s export arm said the carmaker currently has no plans to export to Europe.
“We can’t meet Euro 3 standards,” he said. “I don’t know when we will be able to.”
Van Dijk said Geely’s European ambitions are still at an early stage. “They still must develop suitable products,” he said. “Importing them could be a mid-term option.”